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Drone Advisory Committee Holds Inaugural Meeting

On September 16, the 35-member Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) came together in Washington D.C. for their inaugural gathering. NASAO’s Mark Kimberling attended the meeting; Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics Director David Greene was officially appointed to join the group which includes a diverse set of both manned and unmanned industry representatives, along with local government officials — including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

The meeting kicked off with remarks from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Committee Chair, and Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich — followed by presentations from multiple FAA UAS officials. Earl Lawrence, Director of the UAS Integration Office briefed the committee on the immense challenge the FAA faces in regulating potentially hundreds of thousands of commercial drones and in maintaining safety with potentially millions more being flown by hobbyists. Some 12,000 people have applied to the FAA to operate drones commercially since the agency’s new Part 107 took effect on August 29, and more than 500,000 have registered hobbyist drones through the agency’s on-line system.

“It’s more than our traditional aviation profile,” Lawrence said. “The community is much larger and more diverse. What’s really unique is the sheer volume of operations and [their] personal nature.”

Following the presentations, most of the open discussion was focused on determining the goals of the group — and the specific issues of priority to address first. Among the issues the group plans to tackle are identifying steps to enable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and autonomous UAS operations, along with an examination of government preemption and privacy concerns.

The committee, modeled after the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC), was created to bring industry and the FAA together to develop consensus-based recommendations to address issues and challenges associated with integrating unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System (NAS). The next DAC meeting is tentatively set for January, with the goal of having a minimum of three meetings a year – along with additional gatherings of the soon-to-be-formed DAC subcommittee.


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